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A “Red Neck” Dispute Involving Tractors, Amo & Guns

The following dispute could happen anywhere, as it deals with raw emotions, a long term friendship that went sour and the mediation process.

The plaintiff and defendant were long term friends, they shared in common, guns, ammo, and mining.

The sixty year friendship also included visits to the defendants 100 acre ranch that was off the grid.

No power, no water, no electricity, no septic.

Housing consisted of crude cabins and hidden ammo and guns.

As time passed, construction equipment was brought in an abandoned and with decades of exposure to four seasons, the equipment broke down and rusted out bodies of abandoned vehicles became the landscape.

Decades passed and the decision was made to market and sell the ranch.

A rural broker suggested a general cleanup that would be more appealing to a potential buyer.

The defendant and family members asked the plaintiff to take some action of removing broken down and abandoned equipment brought in by the plaintiff.

Years passed pleas were ignored.

One of the items was a construction road grader, its motor had not worked for years.

The past friendship became strained and the request for removal was ignored.

A decision was made by the plaintiff and his son and they cut the road grader into seven individual pieces including using a cutting torch.

Upon discovery the plaintiff sought relief and charged his friend with a felony and a cease and desist for remaining items that were left on the ranch.

Lawyers were called.

A suit was filed and a counter suit was made.

The plaintiff was on a mission that the court would support his position.

The court made the decision to send these two long term friends to voluntary mediation.

They did not care about preserving a long term relationship.

5 hours of mediation were spent by two different mediators, the first a woman who has excellent mediation skills , however much of them in a city environment.

The second mediation occurred when the court suggested a male mediator may bridge the gap and lived in a rural county for 40 years.

The mediation’s bought about discussions of compromise and understanding of positions.

The realty is both sides were deeply entrenched and locked into anger, resentment and the old friends made the decision to let the “Judge” make the decision and they both stated that would be proven right.

The friends entered the courtroom and each sat on each side of the court room and stared at the clerk and bailiff.

The second mediator took a risk and approached the plaintiff and planted a seed.

The suggestion made by the mediator spoke to each of their logic and the mediator turned to the clerk and suggested a quick time delay prior to the judges entry.

The mediator asked both to step into the hallway and like a layer of onions, a solution was created and both became to work on compromise and a solution that included cash and return of personal property.

Within 30 minutes the court accepted a settlement and both friends left the court room not as long term friends but a moment of knowing that this long term dispute reflected new beginnings and a chapter in their lives of a solution to their individual decade plus conflict.

The court was wise in offering Mediation as a Alternative to litigation.

The mediator’s used their mediation skills where a settlement did occurr, allowing both parties to craft a settlement.

Persistance with kindness, honesty to each party, active listening skills and “neutrality” and open communications played a role by the mediators.

Timing was important and the wiliness to take risk and the determination by both the court and the mediation team.


Jim Hildreth

Jim W Hildreth is both a private and court appointed mediator, who's specialty is "Real Estate' Disputes. He has over 40 years of experience and is licensed as a Broker in both California & Louisiana. He is an also an "Expert Witness" in California Superior Courts. When not mediating, his… MORE >

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